Community groups plan Aug. 13 Youth Public Safety Summit
In the wake of the recent shooting death of a teenager in Hybla Valley, the New Gum Springs Civic Association (NGSCA) and numerous community partners are planning an event next month aimed at encouraging dialogue among pre-teens and teenagers, and providing them with valuable resources and support.
The idea of holding a Youth Public Safety Summit came to NGSCA President Queenie Cox in the days after 19-year-old Darren Davis was fatally shot on June 18 — one day shy of his 20th birthday — while he was seated in his vehicle on Seaton Street.
“There’s no safe place from gun violence involving young people,” said Cox. Locations such as churches, schools and shopping malls once viewed as safe are now just as vulnerable as communities. We need to unite the community to identify issues faced by young people and reduce the violence.”
After discussing the possibility of an event with the Mount Vernon District Police Station and other community stakeholders, things started moving quickly, and a summit agenda was put together.
The Young Highway Task Force, a non-profit that mentors families along the Richmond Highway corridor, will lead a discussion on the topic of healing in the aftermath of violence. The Fairfax County Police Department and the National Association of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) will lead the topic of youth and public safety. Inova Mount Vernon Hospital will moderate the youth health discussion focused on mental health and unmanaged empathy, fear and anxiety, while Fairfax County Fire and Rescue leads the topic of drugs and substance abuse. Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. will facilitate discussion of the pathway forward.
Many other individuals and organizations have stepped up as sponsors of the event, including Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, the Public Safety Outreach Committee and Young Invincibles.
The Aug. 13 summit will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Gum Springs Community Center, located at 8100 Fordson Road, with an overflow area for up to 80 additional people. Organizers are arranging for community center vans to help transport those who need a ride, including parents who may wish to attend. Due to the sensitive subject matter under discussion at the summit, parents will need to provide consent for their children to participate, said Cox.
NOBLE will provide free brunch for attendees, and gift cards from sponsors will be offered to the first 50 registered young people as an incentive for attendance. Community members interested in attending the summit are asked to register via NGSCA’s website by Aug. 5.
“Stop the violence!” said Cox.